By Lauren Smith
Posted in Articles
In 2016 I put my heart and soul on the line and opened my own jewelry company: Smith Goldsmith LLC. My passion for this vocation is limitless. I have encountered many obstacles as a goldsmith, things that you would expect a small business to deal with like funding, equipment failure, and distribution. In my case the things that have impacted my business the most are of a more personal nature. If you asked me what I struggle with most, my first thought would reflexively be “dyslexia,” which is something I have lived with my entire life, but maybe it’s actually my superpower? My secret? It is crippling at times, both socially and professionally, but when I really think about what I have struggled most I would have to say it is my gender (and perhaps my age too).
Being a young(ish) woman in an overwhelmingly male dominated industry has meant that I am overlooked or bypassed when people want or need to discuss their jewelry needs. I began my career as a goldsmith working in a small shop that specialized in repairs and custom jewelry. Although my male counterparts and mentor did not treat me poorly, when I opened the door for customers they would ask to speak to the goldsmith– perhaps they think I am the greeter? Even today when I am seen at my workbench, people ask me if I am having “fun?” It’s as if they are talking to a child selling lemonade, asking me, “who makes your jewelry?” Only to have their minds blown when they find out that I am a fire wielding, stone setting, goldsmith working in silver, gold, and platinum and I own my own business.
Now that I have attested that I have been discounted because of my gender, that I have had to fight for my place at the table, alluded to my lifelong love hate relationship with my learning disabilities, and the lesser everyday struggles of a business owner, it’s time to take my story full circle and make my point. Wrap it up in a neat little bow, after all presentation is everything. So deep breath, maybe go eat some chocolate; ice cream anyone? Is it too early for wine? Ya it’s too early for wine… unless it’s after 5 o’clock (somewhere) when you’re reading this.
Through my personal and professional challenges I have learned humility, independence, and how to advocate for myself. These are strengths that I have used time and time again as I try to take my fledgling jewelry company out of obscurity. I understand the importance of having experienced people who are available and willing to help me: those at a company like, Nav.com, for example, who make it their mission to help a small business like mine find funding, repair credit, and help build a blueprint to success, and I am grateful for all the support they have provided as I take my next steps.
If I am fortunate enough to receive this grant, I have two immediate plans to take my business to the next level. First, I would use some of the funds to take Smith Goldsmith to both trade and wholesale shows this summer. Showcasing my jewelry in this manner will not only generate sales to put money back into the business, but personal exposure is so important for the way I work: it is optimal for me to connect with potential customers face-to-face and for them to see, try on, and feel my jewelry. I’m excited to share with customers what I am so passionate about: jewelry made from sustainably sourced materials of the highest quality, crafted here in the USA by my own two hands. The second use for the grant money would be to hire a professional product photographer, who specializes in 360 high definition imaging which will allow my customer to see my jewelry from all angles.
I use my challenges and my “weaknesses” to fuel my focus and my passion to achieve my goals. So, if you make that same mistake and ask me, “Oh honey that looks like fun, are you having fun?” Well of course my answer will be… graciously, “Yes, I’m having fun!” Thank you for reading this, thank you for being a fan, and thank you for letting me do what I do for you: I’m glad to be your goldsmith.